Canberra Times: Call of the koel driving Dickson residents cuckoo

Canberra Times: Call of the koel driving Dickson residents cuckoo

Common Koel, male (source: Birds in Backyards)

In the 8 January 2010 edition of the Canberra Times, journalist Susannah Metherell has written a somewhat humourous article about a noisy koel that is keeping residents of Dooring Street awake at night.

The article is reproduced below:

Call of the koel driving Dickson residents cuckoo

The reason is the male koel, a member of the cuckoo family, which has a distinctive, repetitive mating call, that rings throughout the neighbourhood all night.

Scott Mcarthur, who lives in the street, is suffering sleepless nights at the call of the koel ”At 4.30 in the morning, everybody wakes up. I’ve heard people yelling at night … screaming out the windows ‘shut-up!’ at like 2 o’clock in the morning when it’s going off,” he said.

”It’s crazy … the whole neighbourhood, like anyone you ask in the street, just goes, ‘Oh man what is wrong with that bird’?

”Everyone seems to hate them … people almost have car accidents because everyone slows down to have a look and try and see if they can see it up in the tree on the corner.”

Australia Museum naturalist Martyn Robinson said the residents of Dickson were not alone, as the koel was found across Canberra and Australia, although they were primarily from South-East Asia.

”They’re migratory, so they come down during the spring and look for hosts,” he said.

Mr Robinson said koels were known overseas and in some parts of Australia as ”rain birds” because their calls would become more frantic and frequent before rainstorms.

”Particularly up north in the tropics they’re known as the ‘herald of the monsoon’,” he said.

”The calling at night is unusual but it’s very effective during the daytime … it is possible that the females won’t be able to find the males in the cacophony of other sounds that are going on. But at night when it’s relatively quiet … any females that are …within literally a ‘cooee’ of them are going to hear that call.

”They breed September to March, so March or probably a bit before March you’ll find that the calling will stop.”

Mr Mcarthur agreed, calling it the ‘bird of summer’ because of its arrival in summer, ”start of December … and then until the end of February, March it is four months of insomnia.”

Solutions included ear plugs, but Mr Mcarthur said that even with ”double glazed windows in our house … you can still hear it. It’s a penetrating beast, that one.”

Visit the Birds in Backyards website for more information on the Common Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)

Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The Canberra Times – 08 January 2010.


  1. Isn’t that just typical Canberra?! No complaints filed about the more intrusive and ugly noise…not to mention the persistent dust raised up by the January Festival of the Bogans at EPIC… sense of the poetic, no empathy with Nature, solipsism personified. And a solution to everything….if it moves and annoys me, shoot it. Shame!!!!

    Edith Hamilton
  2. I re read this article written this time last year. Again, this annoying hideous feathered creature is blighting our neighbourghood – I would dearly love to have an air gun and get rid of the thing. The rangers advise they can’t do anything about it – although I did point out it is not a native bird. It is enough to send people insane. Luckily I am out all day so don’t have to endure the torture. I have worked in an area where there were peacocks in the grounds, their cry is bad enough, but for me the Koel is far far worse.

    Judy Diamond
    1. Oh dear me. I guess you complain about the noise the school kids make too.

      People like you will dearly miss NATURE when you’ve had it shot and destroyed in order for you to have your peace and quiet.

      YOUR intolerance makes a much louder noise than the Koel ever could.


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